Salton Sea Whimsy
by Sue Jaussaud
“Whimsy…a fanciful device or creation, especially in art.” Well, that pretty much describes the places Bob and I recently visited in the Salton Sea area. Our ﬁrst stop was at the International Banana Museum (“The Most A-Peeling Place on Earth”) near tiny North Shore. The museum is just one large room, but it’s delightful… and delicious. There is a nominal admission charge, which is waived if you buy something, and you really, really want to enjoy one of their chocolate banana shakes. While whipping them up, the owner told us the story of the museum’s origin. And when his wife saw me taking Bob’s photo, she popped up from behind the counter wearing, what else, a banana costume. Display cases line the walls, full of more banana related items than you ever knew existed. Take a look on line, and call ﬁrst to be sure they’re open. Then go bananas!
Our second stop was “East Jesus”, near Slab City, east of Niland. Amazing folk art lives here, created from the ﬂotsam and jetsam of a trash pile. And it’s wonderful! Enter through a metal arch decorated with bicycles and propane bottles, and move on to the bottle wall, giant lizard, decorated cars, and TV wall. The creations go on and on, and you are free to walk around and take pictures. Nice folks here, too. I do love the desert, and ﬁnding this stuff is just the best! ~ Sue
Report of an unofﬁcial DE trip
The Jaussauds invited two couples to join them at their Colorado River shore home for a fun three day holiday. It was at the end of September and the weather could not have been more perfect. However, as you read my report of this most peculiar trip you will see why I do not name the invited couples, so as to save them embarrassment.
The DE members know me and know that I am a staid quiet and less than talkative, serious person, but I need to reveal some information about our guests to DE. I was designated to write the trip report; I suspect so, as usual, the DE members would pick on me.
My wife, Ruth, and I arrived at their gated private river road on the east side of the river across from Needles, California about midday and was I surprised. As I toured their property, I found that it was a large lot with four modern garage buildings. DE members know that Bob is retired from the entertainment industry and this was obvious as I saw what he and Sue have done with their place. They have saved a variety of desert treasures, including two trucks that had run down a bit but had been resurrected.
Before the other couple arrived, Bob and Sue took us on an old desert road north to a dilapidated and very old town where Bob was shopping for more desert treasures. There were a lot of cars and people, as well as a large local population of burros who seemed to have the right of way. As we tried to walk they kept getting in my way and trying to intimidate me into feeding them. Further on, we were shown some old mines. One was the Gold Roads Mine where my grandfather lost his right arm. Also, we were shown some of the old Historic Beale Road and many other old interesting sites.
After coming back to the river and the bunk house, we had a large pot luck dinner with the other couple, who had arrived while we were gone. Everyone, except me, worked together preparing the repast. I preserved my male image by not being in the kitchen. Their composite dinner was culinary art. They made me eat too much, I was just trying to be polite.
The next day was the boat trip. Six of us started down the river. There were hundreds of other very active boats going both ways and they stirred the river up until sometimes it was as if we were on the high seas. My wife and Allan laid back up front in the luxurious seats and were quite happy and smiling not even noticing that I was getting slapped in the face by the occasional extra high thrashing waves.
The beautiful verdant wild growth crowded the water in many places as we traveled toward our goal, the Topoc Gorge. Along the miles there were Indian lands and Wild Life Preserves. We were amazed, seeing majestic Blue Heron and other migrant fowl amongst the ever present forest of green reeds crowding the sometimes invisible shore line. There were many exposed beaches where hundreds of families were camped; tents, campers and beached boating parties all apparently having a wonderful time creating a spirit of hilarity. All that, along with the invigorating clear river air, I believe was what caused the ladies in our group to become wild and uncontrollable and eventually causing me much embarrassment.
Sue and Ding had driven down to the boat landing and resort at Topoc to meet us. We landed there and, as a group, we got to see the greatly improved facility there with all kinds of refreshments, restaurant and so forth, a grand place. That’s when it happened. The ladies started acting like free spirits and not cherishing their clothing, becoming somewhat audacious. And after they were persuaded to try to behave, to little avail, we later caught them holding the big door open to the men’s restroom so as to photograph the row of salacious urinals there.
Having some luck corralling the ladies, we all proceeded on down the river, passing under the marvelous bridges that accommodate tremendous auto and train trafﬁc, as well as several major interstate gas transmission lines that cross above the river. One of our major national arteries.
We then moved on into the Topoc Gorge. A majestic place where the river goes through the gigantic towering geological mountain formations. The town of Needles, California up river from there is named for them. It was awesome, grotesque dark brown soaring rock formations routing the river this way and that with often a menacing barren rock shoreline giving the impression we were imprisoned by these very ancient mountains. Along the way the river spilled off into canyons, secret reed lined waterways disappearing into a wild rugged country. Captain Bob took the boat off into one. It was profusely lined with reeds and river plants that crowded our passage and then it opened into a private majestic lagoon and he stopped the engine. We were alone and away from the turmoil of the crowd on the river. It was a splendid interlude, though we were alarmed when the captain pretended at ﬁrst that the super Hi-Tech engine wouldn’t restart.
We then rejoined the crowded river that ﬂows on to Yuma, eventually to the Ocean. But we turned about to return to Jaussaud’s landing. We left Ding and Sue off at the Topoc landing; I don’t know how they conducted themselves thereafter. The return trip seemed to be a survival exercise; I was thankful that our Captain was brave and skillful. As we sped toward the numerous boats violently whipping the river into a frenzy it was as if we were traveling across the virgin desert in a large dunebuggy. Thankful that the boat was strong enough to withstand the contest, though Bob seemed a bit battered when we landed at the Jaussaud’s landing.
After resting a while and Bob having recovered, Ding, Allan, Bob and I decided to visit the Needles Museum just across the river from their place but no one was there to let us in. So, after driving around seeing the town that economic times has changed drastically we returned to the bunkhouse. Then the Jaussaud’s embarrassed me again. They called Cheryl Mangin, the woman who is the matriarch of the Museum, and invited her to come to our pot luck dinner that night even though it was her day off. Sue said she planned to impose on Cheryl to open the museum on Sunday just for us. Cheryl came to our dinner and appeared to be enthused (She might have been feigning it). They all laughed and carried on and Sue got Cheryl to agree to open just for us on Sunday.
Ding and Allan had to leave early the next morning but Ruth and I and Bob and Sue did go to the museum. After all, we had imposed on beautiful Cheryl. I do have to admit it was a very worthwhile visit. Anyone traveling to Needles will be rewarded to go there. There are many wonders there and many great historical artifacts. The Jaussaud’s have donated many items that are there to enjoy, including a large operating Erector Set Ferris Wheel (assembled by Captain Bob).
Holiday Fiesta at Ding and Allan Wicker’s House!
I t’s possible you had an excuse for not making the Desert Explorers holiday gathering at the home of Ding and Allan Wicker, but it couldn’t have been a very good one. You must plan better next year. The folks who did make it were treated to great food, happy people, a festive day and some twisted fun with the “bring a gift, get a gift, steal a gift” game.
We kicked the gathering off with the shortest DE meeting on record, less than 25 minutes! There were wonderful dishes, savory, sweet, local, international, hot, cold and in-between. Nobody went hungry and everybody found things to satisfy their cravings.
Regardless of folks’ backgrounds or traditions, it is always a wonderful way to wrap up the year. Warm greetings, friendly faces, good food and a wacky game to loosen things up made this a wonderful afternoon.
Who was there? Bob Jacoby, Bob and Sue Jaussaud, Nan Healy, Jean and Sunny Hansen, Julie and Bill Smith, Kate Fosselman and Steve Jarvis, Neal and Marian Johns, Ruth and Emmett Harder, Bobby Sanchez and Daniel Dick, Jim Watson and his sweetheart Linda, Ann Yibing Bai, Marie and Nelson Miller, Ellen Miller, Dave McFarland, Axel Heller, Jay Lawrence, Bruce Bartlett, Dolly and Jerry Dupree, Nancy Maclean and Ron Ross, Vicki Hill, Genmarie Wentworth, and our hosts Ding and Allan Wicker.
Thank you Ding and Allan for having us again this year. It was big fun!
Click Read More for photos
Hiking in the Calico Mountains
Odessa Canyon and the Doran Scenic Loop
Text & photos by Danny Siler
I n January 2015 Nelson Miller led a four-wheel drive trip to the Calico Mountains. At our lunch stop atop the rim of a canyon, he pointed down and announced “that’s Odessa Canyon down there!” It was deep and narrow - my kind of place. Ever since then I’ve wanted to hike through there. It was easy to find on a topo map and finally I got my wish.
The Calico Mountains are well known for all the colors, shades of colors and blends of colors; vermilion, copper green, orange, brown, saffron yellow, maroon, and violet. And much geologic fascination from fault lines, folding, slate and schist.
After mining ceased, Odessa Canyon was joined with the former Bismarck Canyon and renamed Doran Scenic Loop after a county supervisor in the 1930s. The massive Bismarck site is located on this route. This is home to at least a hundred adits, mine shafts and glory holes. With rappelling gear one could go all the way down into the bottom of a shaft.
Wildlife I encountered along the trail were lizards, a hawk, jack rabbit, a couple of desert rats, and one dead tarantula; but no snakes. Occasionally I saw some animal tracks and I believe they were coyote.
Being out there in the desert with no other humans provides solitude and the ability to imagine how the early miners, explorers, and settlers would have endured living and working in this environment. I enjoyed being out of the car and traveling on foot - close to nature, the dirt, all the sizes and shapes of colorful rocks, and the sound of the crunch underfoot.
ATV tracks abound at the bottom of the canyon but I don’t understand how they do it. This was definitely the most rugged canyon floor I’ve ever seen. But no foot steps. I was here mid-week and had the mountains to myself. On a weekend I could envision more folks coming to Calico for camping, off-road driving, and target shooting for the gun enthusiasts.
On foot, once I left the car, I hiked the loop, stopped at many mines, explored side canyons, and was back to my car in about four hours.
Odessa Canyon begins at Calico Road about halfway between the Ghost Town and Mule Canyon Rd. Drive the car about a half-mile in, park, and get out and start walking.
I think a topo map is helpful. About three years ago the U. S. Geological Survey (USGS) made all their topo maps available free on the internet. I like caltopo.com. I can zoom in-or-out; create a pdf with latitude and longitude, and print on 8 1/2” by 11” paper. Carrying a hand-held GPS device is nice also.
For an encore I returned late in the afternoon, drove my car uphill on an ATV track as far as I could and hiked to the top of a hill. From this vantage point I had 180 degree view of all the Calico Mountains. The sun set behind me which turns everything golden and cast long shadows for what my wife Norma calls “magic hour.”
I stayed overnight at the Oak Tree Inn in Yermo and enjoyed dinner at Peggie Sue’s diner. ~ Danny
Desert Explorers Meeting Minutes
Saturday, October 2, 2017
Attending Bob Jacoby (Chair), Alan and Ding Wicker, Dave McFarland, Barbara Midlikowski, Neal and Marian Johns, Emmett and Ruth Harder, Nelson Miller, Bobbie Sanchez and Daniel Dick, Bill and Julie Smith, Mal Roode, Terry and Eileen Ogden.
Regrets Nan Healy and Jay Lawrence.
Minutes Accepted as published.
Treasurer Bill Smith provided the Treasurer’s Report. He announced that the DE cash balance is $4,572. We have 86 paid members and there have been two new members since the last meeting. There have been no expenditures since the last meeting. Bob Jacoby noted that a check needs to be written for $425 as a security deposit for renting the 2018 Rondy facilities. The check will not be cashed and will be returned to us at the end of the Rondy. Bill also indicated that it may be better to have new and renewing members make just one payment to cover the DE newsletter dues and the annual membership for MRVM. He will investigate this possibility with MRVM.
Newsletter Bob Jacoby gave Jay Lawrence’s report. Jay reports the monthly newsletter is functioning fine. There is a need for backup and we always need more input from our membership each month. This can be trip reports, tech reports, etc.
2018 Rendezvous Bob Jacoby and Jerry Dupree gave an update on Rondy planning. The dates in Ridgecrest are April 6-8. We will be utilizing the facilities at the Fairgrounds in Ridgecrest. Full hookups, tent camping and nearby motels will be available. We arranged for a caterer, and a Saturday evening guest speaker. We hope to have petroglyph tours conducted by the museum on both Saturday and Sunday. We will need volunteer leaders for other trips on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
Website There was no report as Debbie was unable to attend.
Museum Barbara Midlikowski gave an update on some activities regarding the museum. She will take items to the upcoming Museum rummage sale. She also discussed the Death Valley 49ers annual Rendezvous coming up soon. She indicted the national park has cut back on their maintenance program and many campgrounds are closed. Also, the Furnace Creek remodel is still going on.
Trip Schedule Several upcoming trips, scheduled and unscheduled, were discussed:
New Business: The next meeting will be in conjunction with the annual Christmas party and will be on December 16th at the Wicker’s in Claremont.
By Deb Miller Marschke
In July 2017, I attended “Old Fort MacArthur Days” which is a multi-disciplined living history event. It’s held annually on the grounds of Fort MacArthur in the city of San Pedro. Each era that is represented here has a section of the grounds, and the re-enactors set up a “period” camp. The part I enjoy the most are the costumes. The re-enactors wear period attire which is as accurate as possible, and these folks wander about. For those that truly enjoy history, this event is like a really weird dream; you are walking around in your street clothes amongst the Romans, Vikings, Yankee soldiers, pirates, and Victorian ladies.
Making costumes has been one of my most favorite hobbies since I was a kid. I enjoy the challenge of conceptualizing my ideas, constructing the outfit, and the pleasure of wearing the finished costume. So as I floated dreamily around Old Fort MacArthur days, the urge to make a costume for next year grasped me. I found myself in one of the exhibitor’s canvas tent, which was set up as a general store. There were historically accurate patterns for sale, so many choices. I needed to decide what era I was going to work in, so I began to think about famous women throughout history. I decided that it would be fun to depict Olive Oatman, and I purchased a historically accurate pattern for a Victorian era bodice and skirt. I also purchased a lace parasol and a straw bonnet.
I chose Olive Oatman because her haunting photographs stood out in my mind. I only knew the basics of her story: she was on the emigrant trail, had been captured by Indians, and had lived amongst them long enough to receive a disfiguring tattoo on her chin. So before I made the costume, I needed to learn more about her story. There are a few books about her, the most well-known is also the first book, written by Royal Stratton. Stratton was a minister, and he stepped forward to shelter and protect her as she reintegrated into society. I chose to read “The Blue Tattoo, The Life of Olive Oatman” by Margot Mifflin first. This book was first released in 2009, so I thought it would be a good choice if I wanted to know Olive’s life story.
The book was excellent. Not only did the author provide every detail that is currently known about Olive’s life, she also provided information about the history of the era and what lead up to her ordeal. Therefore, Olive’s story can be more broadly understood. The material is well researched and fully annotated. Though I found the first chapters slightly tedious, my interest and fascination with Olive’s story was complete by the time I finished the book. This is not simply a story about a woman who was captured and rescued in the “old west.” This is a story about a young girl, raised under the heavy restrictions of the Mormon religion and the Victorian society. In 1850, this 13 year old blindly and faithfully embarked with her family of 9 on a journey to an unknown land, following her parents utopian ideals. The entire endeavor was doomed from the beginning because of misguided religious zealotry and misinformation about the region they sought to establish their new life. She witnessed the violent murder of her family, she and her sister Mary Ann were captured, and forced to walk barefoot for three days at a brisk pace (according to Stratton, they walked 200 miles). They were enslaved by Yavapai Apaches for about a year. The two girls were purchased from her captors by the Mojaves, walked another 350 miles (per Stratton), and arrived on the banks of the Colorado River near present day Needles, CA. At this juncture, Olive’s story becomes a mystery that author Margot Mifflin has sought to understand in her book. Though the book written by Stratton portrays her assimilation into the Mojave tribe as a tale of slavery and brutality, Mifflin has research to prove otherwise. Olive possibly enjoyed life as a Native American with social freedoms she would have been denied with the Whites, despite the crude conditions. During a regional famine, Mary Ann died of starvation and Olive’s ordeal was hers alone. She believed her entire family had perished. She had no idea where she was and where the nearest white people could be found. At this time in history, the Mojave tribes were fairly isolated from outsiders. Olive became fully assimilated into the Mojave tribe, and lived for 5 years as a Mojave. She had no way of knowing that her brother, Lorenzo, had also survived the attack. Lorenzo, orphaned at age 14, had been struggling alone during Olive’s ordeal to find the means to locate and rescue his sisters. She was reunited with Lorenzo at Fort Yuma. One would think this was a happy ending for the two Oatman children, but in actuality it was an entire new subset of problems and difficulties for them to endure. Olive was an instant celebrity, but reintegrating into society was complicated for her. She was marked with the facial tattoo and therefore the curious public treated her like a circus freak. It was assumed that she had sexual contact with her captors and no longer a virgin. Rumors abounded that she had abandoned half breed children. She had no money, no means of financial support, her future prospects for marriage were bleak, and no relatives stepped forward to shepherd the vulnerable young woman as she entered society as an adult. At age 19, she was close to being considered an unmarried “Old Maid.” Olive and Lorenzo continued to be victims because the minister who “rescued” them manipulated and exploited them. Royal B. Stratton put his evangelical career on hold under the auspice of benevolence, but it appears his motives were monetary; he generated a steady income by herding Olive and Lorenzo around on a lecture circuit and promoting his book. Stratton benefited by selling 30,000 copies of his book which was rife with sensationalism. Yet, both surviving children managed to achieve a “normal” life by breaking free from Stratton, getting married and slipping quietly into traditional societal roles until their natural death. It was rumored that she died in an insane asylum in New York in 1877, but she actually died of a heart attack on March 20, 1903 and is buried in Sherman, Texas. It seems that Olive started out as one of the West’s great heroines, but her life story has slipped into obscurity. The entire tale is quite remarkable. Given the social mores for a single woman in the 1850’s, her survival of this ongoing ordeal is absolutely astonishing.
After reading this book, I became obsessed with Olive Oatman. I was energized in knowing her story, and set to work on making my costume. The pattern I had purchased was an exact replica of the era. I am an experienced seamstress, but I found the garment challenging to construct. Learning about how these dresses during the 1850-1865 time era was an invaluable experience for me. Despite the fact that clothing in this era was painstakingly handmade, I found that the Victorian dress was more well-constructed than present-day clothing. The costume consisted of two pieces: a bodice and a skirt. The pieces were fully lined, so essentially I made two outfits melded into one. I purchased 8 yards of broadcloth, 6.5 yards of muslin, and 16 yards of trim braid. I chose these fabrics because they were affordable, so had I opted for authenticity, the dress would have been made of silk. Silk is $15.00 per yard! The bodice also contained boning as a support and stiffener. My husband Steve and I have fun discussing the boning, because if the dress was authentic, I would need to acquire strips of whale baleen. Though Steve’s suggestion to use plastic zip-ties he had bought from Harbor Freight was considered, I did purchase prefabricated boning (now called “stays”) from the yardage store. As the garments were constructed, I made the decision to deviate from authenticity so the final outfit would be more comfortable to wear. Nevertheless, I learned a tremendous lesson by working on this outfit and I will enjoy scrutinizing authentic historical garments in the future. I worked on the dress in my spare time over 10 days. I used a modern sewing machine, but much of the finish work needed to sewn by hand.
On October 6, 2017, I arrived at Goffs, CA to attend the MDHCA annual Rendezvous. It was here I planned to “become Olive” and walk around in the costume. This was a total surprise for the attendees of the event, as I had not discussed my plan with anyone. Initially I intended to wear the Oatman dress in 2018 at Old Fort MacArthur days. However, I also considered that the crowd at MDHCA would recognize the character and appreciate my effort as well. I was fortunate to acquire a clip-in hair piece that matched my hair color; for only $12.00, I instantly had longer hair styled in beautiful ringlets. All I needed was Olive’s tattoo. Olive’s chin tattoo was blue; the Mojaves used a cactus needle and powdered rock to tattoo their faces. Had I not been scheduled to travel on business the following week (and meet the company Vice President), I had considered using a Sharpie marker. I needed to use something that would come completely off after the weekend! I had experimented with waterproof eye pencils, which proved to work adequately. I put on the historical garment, fashioned my hair, marked my chin, and became Olive Oatman.
As I ambled around at Goffs and told Olive’s story, my education continued. It was 90 degrees that weekend. The dress was restrictive and hot in some respects, but some features of the dress were airy and loose. It required a certain level of commitment to wear the costume in the heat, but when folks commented on this I would joke, “I am suffering for my art.” I actually enjoyed this exercise, for it promoted thinking and learning more about what it was like to live in this era, and what it may have been like to be Olive Oatman. Ultimately, I was asked to give an impromptu presentation about the Oatman story. Though I had not planned on speaking in front of a crowd, I was amongst friends. I enjoyed the chance to add one more item to my personal resume: I am now a history re-enactor!
Currently, my strange obsession with Olive Oatman continues. I’ve continually learned more about her. I just finished reading the original account of her captivity by the minister Royal B. Stratton. I found it difficult to read because of the 1890’s “melodramatic” writing style. Nevertheless, I believe it’s important to study this work to understand how the Oatman children were exploited. Someday, I would like to read the transcripts of her first interviews when she arrived at Fort Yuma. Maybe someday I will travel to the Oatman family massacre site in Arizona, or take the time to visit her grave next time I am in Texas. I will be looking for Olive as I continually explore our beloved Mojave. But for today, I am keeping her story alive by telling it. Naturally, I wholeheartedly recommend the book “The Blue Tattoo” by Mifflin. It’s reasonably priced on Amazon. Perhaps you will be as intrigued by this story as I have been; maybe not as obsessed as I have become, but we can discuss her story further and perpetuate the momentum of this educational experience. ~Deb
Explore Nevada Trip Report
October 23-27, 2017
Leaders: Bob & Sue Jaussaud
Photos: Sue, Mignon, Glenn & Nelson
Oh noooo…! From the rear view mirrors, we could see billows of smoke pouring out the back of our truck as we climbed the grade into Boulder City. Not a good thing! I hastily pulled over onto the shoulder and stopped. There was so much smoke everywhere, the truck must be on fire! I grabbed the fire extinguisher, but luckily with the engine off the smoke slowly started to dissipate. However, oil was still running out underneath the truck and a large pool formed quickly. Something major must have blown!
Sue called for a tow truck. Finally getting through to the Auto Club help line, she was informed it would be 45 minutes before someone could arrive to assist us. Time to think. First, we texted the others on the trip to let them know they were currently leaderless. Then we analyzed the situation. It was definitely transmission oil pooling on the ground and it was leaking out from the radiator area. Could it be that a transmission oil line to the transmission cooler on the radiator had broken? Being on a grade, we were able to roll the truck back off the pool of oil and I crawled under to remove the skid plate. Yes! A clamp had worked loose and an oil line had come apart. It was an easy fix. By the time the tow truck arrived we were repaired, except for no transmission fluid in the transmission. John, the very friendly tow truck operator, said the easiest thing to do would be to load our truck on his vehicle and he would take us to an auto parts store to get oil. In Boulder City, he off loaded us at the store and stayed with us until we had refilled the transmission and tested the truck. Everything was good and we were on our way. Happy days!
The truck ran fine and we were able to make up some lost time, getting to our group rendezvous at Goldfield a mere 15 minutes late. Nelson and Ellen, Ron, Mignon, Jim, and Glenn were waiting for us. Our host, John Ekman, President of the Goldfield Historical Society,was there also. John had arranged for the local photographer, Jeri, to escort us on a tour of the historic Goldfield Hotel. A unique opportunity. The hotel is under renovation and scheduled to be reopened in two years. Currently it is only inhabited by its infamous ghosts. Jeri alerted our senses with many stories of paranormal happenings. Time to leave!
Back in the sunshine, we explored a bit to find the “International Car Forest of the Last Church”, a conglomeration of weird car sculptures painted with weirder symbols. Leaving the weirdness behind, it was good to find a smiling face at the Goldfield Radio Museum. Our host,“P.K.,” was fun and friendly. Reluctantly leaving P.K. and Goldfield, we gassed up in Tonopah and headed to Belmont, our camp spot for the first of several cold nights.
Tuesday morning we departed for the Toiyabe Mountains where we took a short hike to the Toquima Mine. We found historic buildings, an old tractor and an impressive kiln beautifully built into a cabin wall. Back at the vehicles, we continued our drive up the mountain in search of the old 1920’s mining camp of Van Ness. Mercury was the primary product at Van Ness, which operated sporadically into the 1940’s. There are several buildings still standing there. From Van Ness, we continued up the mountain to the remains of Barcelona, a silver camp dating from 1874. At one time Barcelona had 175 miners, three boarding houses and an assay office. From Barcelona, our steep rocky road climbed over a 9000 foot pass and down to the remains of the San Pedro Mine and then Flowers Camp, where the road finally improved.
After descending to Monitor Valley, we turned south instead of north, as planned. It seems that when Sue and I had texted that we might not make it due to a smoking truck, the leadership void had been quickly filled and the new leaders’ itinerary was considered preferable to the original. On a previous trip, Glenn and Mignon had discovered a mill in the Kawich Range that everyone wanted to see. A bloodless coup! We were going to drive over Manhattan Pass, so as to camp at Peavine. That would enable us to gas up again in Tonopah the next morning before heading east to the Kawich Mountains.
It was a very cold, but beautiful, night at Peavine with Fall colors and a cozy campﬁre. Next morning, everyone was in such good spirits that I was able to persuade them we should explore a few more items on the original agenda before heading east. So, we detoured into the San Antonio Mountains to find the Cimarron Mine and the townsite of Potomic. The Cimarron was well worth the effort, but when we arrived at Potomic, we realized that we had been there before with Bill Gossett. We made a hasty drive back to Tonopah for gas before heading to the Kawich Mountains.
It is strikingly beautiful driving through the loneliness of Nevada. Descending into Reveille Valley, we arrived at Warm Springs and were treated to the sight of at least ten Desert Bighorn grazing near the springs. Leaving the sheep well photographed, we turned south on a dirt road paralleling the east side of the Kawich Mountains. After a lot of dust, we arrived at the first Reveille Mill site complete with a large pond and many gold fish. This mill was a long ways from any mine, but the abundance of water may have been the explanation for the location. Turning west into the setting sun, Glenn led us to the considerable remains of Eden Creek Ranch, where we camped for the night.
Thursday morning we started into the Kawich Mountains. Approaching the mouth of a canyon, Glenn showed us the remains of the Old Reveille Mill site. After a brief stop, we continued driving west and deeper into the canyon. We encountered water and a lot of vegetation, but the road had been recently graded and it was easy going. When it seemed we were reaching the end of the canyon, the mill suddenly came into sight. It was so incongruous to find such a large mill in such a remote setting, but there it was! It was at least four stories high. As we climbed the stairs to the top, we saw the drive wheels and engines still in place. What a find! From the mill, Ron and I wandered up the canyon and discovered the historic townsite of Eden. There were several cabins in various stages of decay, some almost hidden in the lush growth. Nelson continued driving to the end of the road and reported finding heavy equipment at an operational mine site, thus the reason for the graded road.
Ron, Jim, Sue and I realized that it would be difficult to top finding Eden and the mill. As the weather was predicted to get a lot colder, we decided to turn toward home. Glenn, Mignon, Nelson and Ellen stayed to explore another day. I hope they stayed warm and found another Eden. ~Bob
Explore Nevada Trip Report - Part II
Story and photos by Mignon Slentz
The internet conspired to waylay this part of last month’s Nevada trip report by Mignon... She perservered:
The group split up at Eden Creek Mill site, leaving Glenn, Mignon, Nelson and Ellen to cross Reveille Valley into the Reveille Mtns to look for the mining camp of Reveille. Silver was discovered in 1866 and the camp was active until 1875. We Camped overnight on top of a mine dump at Tybo. Silver ore was discovered there in 1870 and by 1875 had a peak population of over one thousand people. There were several boom and bust cycles up to 1944. We visited the very well preserved charcoal kilns, the old store, mill sites and cemetery. We said goodbye to Nelson and Ellen in Tonopah and continued on to Bullfrog where we camped at the red barn. It was Beatty Days and tours were being conducted at Rhyolite. We were the third group to see inside the train depot in 18 years. ~ Mignon
Desert Explorers Meeting Minutes
Saturday, September 9, 2017
Attending Mal Roode, Daniel Dick & Bobby Sanchez, Ruth & Emmett Harder, Ding & Allan Wicker, Marian & Neal Johns, Dolly & Jerry Dupree, Julie & Bill Smith, Lindsay Woods, Tracy Woods, Vicki Hill, Eileen & Terry Ogden, Dave Burdick, Brett Henrich, Nelson Miller, Sue & Bob Jaussaud.
Start 11:40 a.m.
Remembering Jerry Harada Everybody had a few words to say about what a great person Jerry was and how he╒ll be missed. Words describing him and his manner included: capable, outgoing, funny, always made you comfortable, loved to cook, how he loved to share places and trips, made sure the elders on his trips had a comfortable bedroom to stay in. Folks remembered the great trips and great times he led that centered around his house in Chloride. He left some big shoes to fill.
Bob Jacoby Apologized in advanced for impaired hearing while manning the Chair. He is being fitted with some new state-of-the-art units and hopes to be back in the conversation soon. Go Bob!
Regrets Deb Miller-Marschke, Steve Jarvis & Kate Fosselman, Ken Hemkin, Nan Healy
Minutes Accepted as published
Treasurer Bill Smith reported all good on the money front. Current funds $4,435.12, up a bit over $9 from last month after subscription income and donation to museum expense.
2018 Rendezvous Bob Jacoby and Jerry Dupree visited Ridgecrest, met with representatives of the Chamber of Commerce and visited the fairground facility where we will have our upcoming Rondy in April. Meeting place is large, ours from Friday afternoon through Sunday afternoon. There is tent camping and RV hookup camping on-site with showers and heads. Motels are a mile or less away for non-campers. Catering will be by Casey's Barbecue, featuring tri-tip, chicken, vegetarian and pork. Price points were discussed, seemed reasonable and Bob was given the go ahead to negotiate a contract to lock things up.
There are a boatload of trips in the area as well as great opportunities for inbound and outbound trips. We will be arranging trips on both Saturday and Sunday to Little Petroglyph Canyon on the China Lake Naval Weapons Center base through Sandy Rogers from the Maturango Museum in Ridgecrest. He will also be our Saturday night after-dinner speaker. Trips mentioned include the Panamints area, Trona Pinnacles, Fossil Falls and Death Valley spots. Dates are April 6-8, the weekend after Easter.
Website Deb reported in absentia that the site was up-to-date with the exception of our most recent newsletter materials, which will be plugged in this weekend.
Museum Nelson Miller reported that the museum will be having their Mini BBQ on September 26th. Food will be from the same caterer as the big BBQ and it is great. There was some light discussion on the possibility about being able to take museum membership dollars on PayPal alongside our subscriptions so it would be a one touch operation. Bill Smith will check it out with Pat Schofstall at the MVRM.
MVRM Work Party Nelson proposed a museum work party Saturday, Black Mountain area trip Sunday with an overnight at Paradise Springs weekend trip. Possibly January He will check it out with the museum and Cliff Walker.
OSPA The Old Spanish Trail Association is coming up October 5-8. 18 guest speakers (including Nelson), access to the Daggett Museum which has been closed for years, Sunday field trip to primary Old Spanish Trail sites. Early sign ups included museum members and DE subscribers Glenn Shaw, Nelson Miller, Cliff Walker and Craig Baker. Emmett Harder has been asked to reprise his role as Death Valley Scotty.
Trips We started with two on the calendar from Bob & Sue Jaussaud and several in the planning stages. This quickly escalated.
>NW Clark Mountains to Spring Mountains, September 19-21. Exploratory, will include locating backcountry cabins, mines and rock art.
> Nevada exploratory Bob & Sue Jaussaud. Trail out of Belmont (near Tonopah) overland to Barcelona. Will include ranch cabins, some pretty serious 4WD and old townsites. October 23-27.
> Hastings Cutoff Bill Powell moved his trip date Spring 2018.
> Black Mountains Nelson Miller will lead Sunday trip combined with Saturday museum work party and overnight at Paradise Springs. January 2018
>Lucerne area focused on the north face of the San Bernardino Mountains. Nelson Miller, November 4th.
>Lucerne Valley Rocket Launch Nelson will lead a group out to the big rocket launch November 11th.
>Mirian to Borate Dave Burdick
suggested this trip with notes from an old MVRM trip. Will likely start in Daggett where the old 20 Mule Team wagons are on display. Nelson Miller and Dave Burdick will co-lead the trip. December 2nd is the proposed date.
>Overland Trail Jerry Dupree will lead trip along the old stage line from Salton Sea to Julian. March 2018.
>Route 66 original alignments. Brett Henrich loved the trip led by Joe De Kehoe and wanted to expand on it. Bob Jacoby will put this together and lead it in Spring 2018. Four day trip will go from the New Mexico border to Victoviller in segments so people can join for all or part of the trip.
>Tour of Death Valley Brett also suggested a trip in Death Valley. Emmett Harder and Matt Jones could/would co-lead sometime February/March 2018. Could include the racetrack, Ubehebe Crater, Skiddoo, Old Woman Springs. Planning will begin, details to follow.
>Butte Valley and Emmett's cabin area. Emmett Harder. Possible second trip to this area of Death Valley. Early 2018 due to heat in Spring.
Newsletter Newsletter is in great shape. Jay reported on deep conversations with high level tech support experts at his ISP who explained that the Yahoo hack and security breach a while back has all the internet providers re-writing their email software for better function and privacy. The takeaway is that email from all providers has been and will be a little flaky for some time, like the next six months. We will be breaking our email mass mailings into smaller chunks to make them more digestible to the providers who are currently having indigestion. Like AT&T and socal.rr.net. We have also established a DropBox folder with ALL of the 2017 newsletters available for instant download for anyone who is having trouble receiving the email mass mailing. We tried it out this month and it works as advertised. And it's free.
New business Mitchell Caverns reopens the first weekend of November after many years of closure. Campground and cavern tours will be up and running.
Next Meeting October 28th at Ding & Allan Wicker's house. Several requests for costumes and/or masks in honor of Halloween.
Adjourned 12:50 p.m.
Grand Canyon (South Rim Area)
DE member Joey Anderson has graciously offered to let us poach items from his excellent website at andersonoverland.com and we have taken him up on his offer. Take a look when you have a chance. It is loaded with great trip writeups and outstanding photos.
So when your parents say they want your little one to come stay with them for a few days before the school year starts, you pack the truck! Date trip!!! With four days to get away we decided to head to the Grand Canyon south rim. We had been to the south rim in May but it was a quick stop. The park is always fun to check out but we really wanted to find some dirt trails and hopefully find a cool rim spot to camp. Sadly, no such luck. Every trail we went down either ended in a locked gate or just simply came to an end in the middle of nowhere. Super spotty cell signal, which didn't help. Thankfully, there is a ton of dispersed camping in the area and we found several great spots. We did have a very large elk walk down into our camp the last night, which was pretty sweet. Luna our guard dog, (lol) didn╒t know what to think of him. We had planned to do some product review videos but sadly the weather was not on our side. We did have some pretty bad wind from sun up to sun down. Oh well. Just go with it, I guess. Probably my favorite part of the trip was grabbing a spot along the rim to catch the sunset. EPIC! It was a quick but great trip. We hope to check out the other areas of Grand Canyon soon, including maybe a trip to camp in the bottom of the canyon. Any trip is a great trip. You can╒t go wrong with some fresh air and good company. Love my man and our adventures together. And yes, it was so good to pick up our little one and hug her tight when we got home.
Love and live life to the fullest,
Neal & Marian Get Eclipsed
by Marian Johns
The last DE Newsletter (September 2017) had a short note by Leonard Friedman about the total solar eclipse and coincidentally running into Craig Baker. Like the Friedman╒s and Craig, Neal and I headed up to Oregon where we hoped to see the eclipse. In fact, we ended up camping next to the John Day Painted Hills and Fossil Beds which is fairly close to Madras where our DE friends were ,John Day is a little farther east. I was hoping to find someplace in the boonies east of the Cascades and east of Bend where there would be fewer people. Boy, was I wrong!
There were people everywhere. John Day was completely full, but we had learned from BLM that the field next door was open to campers. So we joined several hundred other folks and set up camp there Sunday evening. The following morning, more and more people arrived. They parked nose to tail all along both sides of the paved road bordering our field.
When, at last, the big moment arrived there was a big, collective cheer just as the very last bit of sun disappeared behind the moon. In a matter of mere seconds, we were engulfed in total darkness. It was an awesome and moving experience. Year ago I had seen a partial eclipse, but it was nothing like this.
The down side of this memorable occasion was the traffic. People had been dribbling in over the previous few days, but then, when the show was over, they all left at once. It took us ten hours to get to Portland - bumper to bumper most of the way. The next day when we headed on up to Seattle, it was more of the same. Still, I╒m glad we went. It was a special, once in a lifetime experience for me.
When we arrived home and went to pick up our mail, our post mistress said she had some unusual eclipse stamps which were heat sensitive. When cool, the moon in front of the sun appears black, but when you touch a warm finger to the back of the stamp, the black disappears and the features of the moon are revealed. Of course we bought some - they come in a set of sixteen. ~ Marian Johns
By: Nelson Miller
I am still in search of a mining historian and engineer who would explain to me the mines, equipment, and oddities we find in the Mojave. In the Clark Mountain area, we recently found four relatively primitive, but very well-preserved, virtually side-by-side Arrastras. The mining in the area seemed fairly modern with use of a bulldozer. Was this an old site, which someone wanted to further explore, or is this someone╒s poor-man╒s version of a four-stamp mill? This is somewhat tongue-in-cheek, but seriously, any thoughts? It certainly was interesting, but as you can see I was running out of light and did not really get to examine these in great detail. ~Nelson
Spring Mountains Trip
September 19-21, 2017
Leaders: Bob & Sue Jaussaud
It was advertised as an exploratory and that is what it turned out to be. But hey! Those roads looked OK on Google Earth.
After the group (Vicki, Ron, Glenn, Nelson, Neal, Marian, Bob &Sue) assembled at Valley Wells, we decided to take a short side trip to see the Mohawk Mine. Well╔ the road in was awful and the mine we finally found was on the opposite side of the mountain from the mine we wanted to see. Working our way around the mountain, we finally found the Mohawk, which turned out to be pretty neat after all. There was even an old tin shack still standing. The morning had evaporated, so we decided to have lunch before continuing.
The road to Pachalka Spring was so much nicer than the road to the Mohawk Mine. So much so, that we missed seeing a large pothole. Marian found it, though, and totally collapsed one of the front shock absorbers on her new truck. Her front tire was dragging in the wheel well. The only solution was to put on her smaller spare tire, which provided enough wheel clearance so she could limp back to civilization. While we were working on the Johns╒ truck, Vicki showed us a nice petroglyph panel not far from where we were stuck. It was late in the afternoon by the time we were ready to move on,so we decided to proceed to the first acceptable camp spot and enjoy the evening together, as Neal & Marian would not be able to continue with us the next day.
As luck would have it, we located a nice site above a wash and set up camp. We were a good ways up the side of Clark Mountain, so the weather was very pleasant. Exploring the area around camp on foot, we located the four really nice arrastras I had seen on Google Earth and an old mine and rock shelter just a short ways up the wash. As daylight waned, we
thoroughly enjoyed a traditional happy hour and Ron fixed one of his famous pasta and meatball dinners for us all. Nelson and Marian contributed their tasty salads. It was a special evening.
The next morning we worked our way back to pavement and Nelson volunteered to follow Neal & Marian back to Valley Wells while the rest of us located the next turn off. When Nelson returned, we headed east on the north side of Clark Mountain in search of the Green Cabin. We detoured a bit to checkout the Beatrice Mine and the ruins of Stonewall, finally arriving at Green’s Cabin precisely at lunch time. Sue had researched the cabin history, which was occupied by the Greens from 1900 to1920. Lunch was in the shade of the front yard tree.
After lunch, we skirted the Colosseum Mine tailings and located a little used road that led us to the Frank Curtis Cabin. We found the cabin totally intact and very usable, as the local mice can testify. It was an amazing find though. Moving on, we descended Clark Mountain on the east side via the very steep Colosseum Mine Road, turning off to visit the remains of Ivanpah. By now, it was late in the afternoon and warm at the lower elevations, so it was agreed we would head to the Spring Mountains and stay at the “99 Cabin.” We received a phone message from Marian that she and Neal had arrived home safely.
The road up the east side of the Spring Mountains was very rocky and slow. Along the way, we encountered a herd of 14 or more wild horses. They were beautiful and it was amazing how close they allowed us to get. Vicki took some great photos! It was 6 p.m. when we finally arrived at the cabin, an A-frame located high up on the east side of the mountains. Our campsite was cramped and windy, but we again enjoyed our happy hour, which was followed shortly by Sue’s vegetarian chili dinner and complimented with Vicki’s salad and apple muffins and Ron╒s sesame seed cookies.
Glenn had early commitments the next day, so he left us shortly after dinner. It was a night drive in the dark, but he emailed that he arrived home safely.
It was still windy and cool in the morning, so we all agreed to skip breakfast and head out. After a few hours of rocky road, we arrived at Goodsprings just in time for breakfast at the Pioneer Saloon. It was a really good meal that we all enjoyed immensely.
After breakfast, we said our goodbyes to Ron and Vicki, who wanted to beat the traffic home. Nelson, Sue and I headed on to explore the Lucy Grey Mine southeast of Primm. After coming to a dead end on the original road into Lucy Grey Canyon, we found an old mine road that led to the mouth of the canyon. Unfortunately, from there, on the road was pretty much washed out. We worked our way to within site of the cabin and walked the final distance. We could see that the cabin had once been a special place, but it is in sad shape now. Our exit was via the paved road between Desert Siding and Nipton, where we each went our separate ways.
It had been a wonderful few days exploring in the desert with great people. We are so lucky! ~Bob
Photos: Bob & Sue Jaussaud, Vicki Hill
San Bernardino Mountains Trip
Saturday, August 26
Leaders: Danny & Norma Siler
It was a beautiful day in the San Bernardino Mountains on Saturday, August 26; not a cloud in the sky and 75 - 80 degree temperature.
Our instructions were to meet at the public bathrooms in the town of Running Springs. A bit awkward but there’s plenty of free parking and everyone loves a bathroom in the morning. Also a bit tricky was that there is not a street address for this location. But… everyone made it on time!!
Because this trip was to be a scenic trail ride through the forest, and not a heavy-duty four-wheel drive event, we piled all nine of us into three vehicles; Danny and Norma Siler as leaders, Dave Burdick, Moe LeBlanc, Hector and Sandra Mangione, Mal Roode, Allan and Ding Wicker.
We first drove to the very lovely Green Valley Lake to enjoy the serenity of it, then we said “good-bye” to the paved road and “hello” to the unpaved forest service road.
It was about an hour and a half drive from 5,500 ft. elevation to 8,500 ft. elevation. We passed through burn areas and the vegetation changed as the elevation changed; sagebrush, yucca, manzanita, juniper, pine trees, fir, spruce, and much more. This route is close to the north side of the mountains and we often got glimpses of the Victor Valley below in the desert.
The spur road to the Butler Peak Lookout was rugged and narrow in places but we made it fairly easily. Because it was a Saturday there were a lot of vehicles coming and going at this destination.
We parked in the shade and it was a nice spot for our picnic lunch and group photo. Then we spent 45 minutes hiking up the trail and staircase to the lookout. The 360 degree view can only be described as incredible. The
lookout has a sweeping viewing deck surrounding its entirety with plenty of room for all of us to enjoy. Both Lake Arrowhead and Big Bear Lake were visible from here. Surprisingly, there was not a volunteer on site this day.
Our return trip was on a different forest service road which was wider, flatter and smoother; more relaxing with a lot more pine trees.
At 4:15 p.m. we arrived, once again, at Green Valley Lake and stopped at a small café to enjoy ice cream, milkshakes, root beer float, etc. All of us could sit around the table and chairs and share good times of the day and discuss other enjoyable aspects of our experiences with the Desert Explorers.
Time came to pay our bill, say our good-byes and depart for home.
Photos: Allan Wicker & Mal Roode
The Ongoing Anderson Expedition
After a recent plea for items for the Desert Explorers newsletter, this note came in from one of our subscribers, Joey Anderson:
“Feel free to use any of our posts from our trips on our website for the newsletter!! www.andersonoverland.com You can also follow us on instagram or facebook - @andersonoverland”
The Anderson family is Joey Anderson, Robyn Anderson, Jetta Anderson, and Luna Anderson (the puppy).
Here is their introduction on their website: “Hello. We are here to encourage, motivate, and assist those seeking to be adventurous! We strive to be an inspiration to the 4x4’ing and adventurer community by sharing wonderful experiences we have out on the open road! Our goal is to also provide unbiased opinions about products we use on as regular basis whether it be for dispersed camping or just trail riding.”
( the included items were poached off thier website) Their site is terrific, outstanding photos and text, good looking layout and sets a very high bar. We will be following it in the future and snagging the odd photo and bits of commentary as the world turns. Thank you Joey and family for your kind offer and a great site. Glad to have you with us in the Desert Explorers.